Top Picks For You

Am I Bad a Traveler? Or Is This Really Good Travel Advice?

Having a travel routine might not sound adventurous, but it proves invaluable in sustaining my long-term travels.

I’

ve always loved to travel, but only in the last few years have I been able to structure my life in a way that allows so much of it. I decided to prioritize travel and committed to longer-length journeys.

My partner and I visited Thailand a few years ago, which was my first “big trip.” We had planned nearly everything—from hotels to main stops—but while we allowed for variable change, we couldn’t have anticipated COVID happening. Despite the global pandemic cutting our trip short, the months we spent in Thailand were spectacular, largely due to our planning. Since then, I’ve continued traveling this way, planning my excursions and accommodations in advance, leaving time on the schedule for last-minute itinerary additions.

Why I’m Grateful for My Routine Life

At home, my life follows a pattern. I wake up at roughly the same time every day, do yoga or go to the gym, work on my writing, read, drink coffee, and so on. I usually go for a walk at around the same time every day. At around 6 or 7 in the evening, I begin the nighttime routine of winding and cooling down with some reading, skincare rituals, perhaps a bit of journaling, and the usual true crime YouTube binge.

Continue Reading Article After Our Video

Recommended Fodor’s Video

I am grateful to have a schedule that allows for constant flexibility, which lets me schedule the days how I want, but this is the key: the days should have a schedule because that is how I get things done.

When I travel solo, my routine is much of the same. I don’t drink or party and prefer to wake up early. I head out for the day, indulging in a big breakfast with a side of reading. I hit up a few key spots during the day, or I have some type of activity booked, and then I usually like to be back home inside the hotel after 5 p.m. to rest, shower, and settle in for the night.

I’ve traveled alone for a long time and have always enjoyed my allegiance to having a structure. It helps keep the day in order–when you work remotely or freelance, you have to be responsible for your own schedule, and having a routine is key.

Am I a Bad Traveler?

I live online, and I follow a lot of other traveling folks. I watch these people moving around without rhyme or reason or planning. One girl I follow recently wrote an ode to this type of travel. She went to India with no reservations and made her way through the country with a couple of friends for five months, figuring it out every day as she went along. My heart swelled reading her story and following her adventure. I wanted to see myself like that, barefoot and carefree in the Himalayas, wading in the Ganges with no clue where to lay my head at night, sometimes sleeping on floors, sometimes simply not sleeping.

I loved reading her stories but could not picture myself alongside her, living the same type of life. Though my heart beat faster, imagining what could be, the anxiety rock that lives deep in my stomach started aching at the thought of having no plan whatsoever.

I’d always chastised group tours and trips, claiming they left no space for adventure–but wasn’t I doing the same thing, albeit solo? With this new revelation, I was distraught.

Am I a bad traveler? I wondered. In watching the glamourized, seemingly whimsical lifestyles of other travel bloggers, I had somehow become convinced that the way I was traveling was not good enough and, at worst, boring.

But I love my routine, and if that makes me boring, so be it. It works for me.

The Benefits of Having a Routine While Traveling

As much as I love my routine, sometimes, you must let a few strings loose and go with the flow. But because of my routine, I can travel longer and not get overwhelmed. Having a plan is what keeps my traveling lifestyle sustainable.

A routine can be extremely comforting and beneficial for those traveling alone. Consider making your days more regular on your next vacation because you may get more out of them than you think. I believe that routine is the key to comfort, and I have a few things that I do that are exclusive to my travel routines, such as taking a walk around the neighborhood as soon as I check in or changing up my yoga practice to accommodate morning activities or time zone differences. Routine allows me to maximize my days abroad while leaving some room for the moments of spontaneity that inevitably crop up when traveling solo.

Plan for Change

I’m aware that I am someone who relies, perhaps too heavily, on having complete control. But as those of us who travel know, things don’t always go according to plan. Sometimes, you have to let a few strings loose and go with the flow. I love my routine, but my routine always leaves some empty space for surprises. At the end of the day, it is precisely because of my routine that I can travel for longer periods of time and not get overwhelmed, and what keeps my traveling lifestyle and goals sustainable. Maybe next time I’ll release control a little bit, but I don’t ever see myself diving all the way in with no plans. Instead, I’ll schedule in some time for flexibility. 

5 Comments
P
P0rtlandia April 20, 2023

The question was this traveler's planning-focused approach to travel bad advice. My answer:  Maybe this is good advice for someone like this author who is prone to being overwhelmed, but it would be bad advice - no, terrible advice - for me. I welcome to opportunity to attend strangers' weddings at their invitation, hop into a mammy bus with someone I met on the plane, or stay overnight with someone who gave me a ride and then stay up all night talking politics.

T
thixon March 28, 2023

In my younger days I was more like a leaf on the wind- I had a plane ticket to go and a return ticket home.  What I did in between was up to me to decide each day.  But after years of working and raising kids with different schedules I developed a love of planning and spreadsheets.  So now I do a bit of both.  I've always enjoyed researching where I am going, in fact I still love to get the Fodor's guide for that destination.  It is so much fun to comb through the pages to see all the recommendations and tips.  Now days I also read travel blogs, watch videos, research all the "top 10" lists.  Then I sort of map out my days a little- see where are things located and group them together in an order that makes sense-especially if I will be walking or taking public transport.  Decide which ones are most important to me and have them scattered across the days of my visit- maybe 1 or 2 a day. If I end up seeing more, that's great.  If I just want to go to one place and chill all afternoon, then that's fine too. I don't keep a rigid schedule. It also can depend on the location and the likelihood that I will come back.  If it is very far away or remote I will be more likely to push through busy days to see as much as I can.  If I'm likely to go again then I am happy to leave something for next time.

R
renni March 28, 2023

I've done it both ways.  Traveled with out any plans accept when I was going and leaving.  Finding last minute hotels/rooms and popping into cafes or restaurants.  And, I've planned in advance, hotels, restaurants, sites.  Both have been great.  In my mind the most important thing to do has always been - get to know a bit about the culture and traditions of the place you are going to visit.  Always do your very best to be aware and remember, you are representing your country; and you are not in your home.  Show a  lot of respect.  Ask questions that demonstrate you are curious and want to learn.  What memories you will make.

K
katewolman6242 March 28, 2023

I am a planner when it comes to events and travel.   My routines are not as structured as yours.  When I suggest things to do to friends that travel, I say list at least your top 3 things you want to see before you leave the place you're visiting, and plan for them.  We took a vacation once with only flight, rental car and hotel plans.  When we landed i picked up a travel brochure that said 99 things to see.  I felt stressed out OMG I didnt.plan for any of them, and I felt like it was a mission statement. I realized its just not my style to wing it.  I plan some things but leave flexibility in the schedule. 

K
katewolman6242 March 28, 2023

I am a planner when it comes to events and travel.   My routines are not as structured as yours.  When I suggest things to do to friends that travel, I say list at least your top 3 things you want to see before you leave the place you're visiting, and plan for them.  We took a vacation once with only flight, rental car and hotel plans.  When we landed i picked up a travel brochure that said 99 things to see.  I felt stressed out OMG I didnt.plan for any of them, and I felt like it was a mission statement. I realized its just not my style to wing it.  I plan some things but leave flexibility in the schedule.